Position: Running Backs
When Marcus Dupree played football for the Philadelphia, MS Tornadoes, his play united the racially divided city. Dupree was one the most highly recruited high school football players in the history of American football, whose phenomenal athletic speed and agility were often compared to Jim Brown and Earl Campbell. While at Philadelphia High, Dupree broke Herschel Walker’s high school touchdown record scoring a total of 87. As a freshman in 1979, Dupree was named Best Offensive Player, Most Valuable Player, All-Mid Mississippi Conference, and Player of the Year in the Mid-Mississippi Conference. He was the Player of the year in 1980 and 1981. Dupree gained state-wide and national attention and was selected for the Prep All-America football squad, the Parade Magazine All-America High School Football Team, Football Player of the Year by the Mississippi Sports Writers Association, Mid-MS Conference, Playboy All-American Team, All-South Team, and All-Conference Team. He was also named as “Face in the Crowd” for Sports Illustrated. While Dupree was still in high school, the flurry of interest from every major football program in the nation inspired the brilliant Southern author Willie Morris to write a book about Dupree’s nationally publicized college recruitment titled, The Courting of Marcus Dupree.
Dupree committed to the University of Oklahoma in 1982. During his freshman year, he was named Big 8 “Newcomer of the Year”. Dupree was also named to the AP All-Big Eight first team and earned a spot on UPI’s All-Big Eight second team. Sports Illustrated featured Marcus on the cover in 1983 and his outstanding running plays were often the topic of nightly national news broadcasts. His elusiveness prompted the Oklahoma coaching staff to successfully change their offensive strategy to the “I” formation in order to maximize Dupree’s effectiveness.
On January 1, 1983, Oklahoma played Arizona State in the Fiesta Bowl where Dupree was named the MVP. Although he only played half of the game and had four injuries, Dupree set and still holds the Fiesta Bowl rushing record of 239 yards. Dupree said “misunderstandings and a lack of communication with head coach Barry Switzer” prompted him to leave the program at Oklahoma in spite being predicted to be a multiple Heisman trophy nominee. After enrolling in the University of Southern Mississippi, Dupree left the program when learning that he would be required to sit out for two years.
In 1984, the USFL’s New Orleans Breakers signed Dupree at age 19 and made him the highest paid player in football. In his first year with the Breakers, Marcus gained 684 yards on 145 carries with 9 touchdowns. Unfortunately, a severe knee injury forced Dupree to leave the game. Amazingly, after an unprecedented five and a half year hiatus from professional football, Dupree’s will, determination, work ethic and passion were the catalysts for him to re-condition himself and earn a tryout with the Los Angeles Rams. In 1990, Dupree made the team and was named, “Comeback Player of the Year.” The Rams’ media guide called the Dupree story “one of the most intriguing comeback stories in all of sports.” In spite of a respectable sophomore season with the Rams, Dupree was released.
Recently, ESPN filmed a highly acclaimed documentary about Dupree’s football career entitled, “The Best That Never Was”, produced and directed by eight-time Emmy winner Jonathan Hock. “The Best That Never Was” depicts the integrity and character of Marcus Dupree throughout his career and shows how his winning attitude helps him cope with life after football. Instead of dwelling on loss, Dupree says he is appreciative of the lessons he has learned and is cognizant of not squandering future opportunities.
Today, Dupree makes personal appearances for corporate events, giving inspirational speeches to a broad range of audiences and recently was a national spokesperson for pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. He has filmed regional commercials including Hyundai and was featured in a major movie titled Life at These Speeds. He has recently revived the New Mid-South Wrestling and runs youth speed and agility sports camps. Dupree is also an equestrian enthusiast who enjoys spending time with his family.
- College: Oklahoma
- New Orleans/Portland Breakers (1984-1985)
- Los Angeles Rams (1990-1991)
- Best Offensive Player, Most Valuable Player, All-Mid Mississippi Conference, and Player of the Year in the Mid-Mississippi Conference (1979)
- Consensus All-American (1980)
- Big 8 “Newcomer of the Year” (1982)
- AP All- Big 8 (1982)
- Fiesta Bowl rushing record holder (239 yards) (1983)